China: 商事仲裁在中国的最新发展 覧解读《最高人民法院关于为自由贸易试验区

Last Updated: 14 December 2017
Article by John Liu and Minli Tang

一、仲裁行业在中国的最新发展

近年来,中国境内的仲裁案件受案量持续保持增长,从2004年的37,304件激增到2016年的208,545件,年均增速约为16%;涉案金额也从2004年的515亿人民币骤涨到2016年的4695亿人民币,年均增速约为22%。

从上述数据不难看出中国仲裁逐渐受到越来多商事主体重视,成为主要的争议解决手段之一。围绕《仲裁法》及相关仲裁问题,我国也出台了相关司法解释及一些官方文件。其中,最新、包含实质性创新的一部文件为2017年1月9日颁布的《最高人民法院关于为自由贸易试验区建设提供司法保障的意见》(以下简称"《意见》")。在此之前,中国法框架下对中方当事人将争议提交域外仲裁有较为严格的限制。此外,在中国内地只允许机构仲裁[1],而不承认临时仲裁[2]。然而,这些原则随着《意见》的颁布和生效或将迎来改变。

二、自贸区内有限开放约定域外仲裁

中国法下,虽然涉外民事纠纷的当事人可约定将争议提交域外仲裁,然而原则上无涉外因素争议不能提交域外仲裁。[3]

针对涉外因素的认定见于《最高人民法院关于适用〈中华人民共和国涉外民事关系法律适用法〉若干问题的解释(一)》的第1条,该条规定民事关系具有下列情形之一的,人民法院可以认定为涉外民事关系:

(1)当事人一方或双方是外国公民、外国法人或者其他组织、无国籍人;

(2)当事人一方或双方的经常居所地在中华人民共和国领域外;

(3)标的物在中华人民共和国领域外;

(4)产生、变更或者消灭民事关系的法律事实发生在中华人民共和国领域外;

(5)可以认定为涉外民事关系的其他情形。

对于无涉外因素争议不能提交域外仲裁的原则,《意见》的第9条第1款规定作出了有限突破—— "在自贸试验区内注册的外商独资企业相互之间约定商事争议提交域外仲裁的,不应仅以其争议不具有涉外因素为由认定相关仲裁协议无效"。即,如果争议各方均为自贸区内注册的外商独资企业,则可以将争议提交域外仲裁。

同条第2款进一步规定一方或者双方均为在自贸试验区内注册的外商投资企业,约定将商事争议提交域外仲裁,发生纠纷后,当事人将争议提交域外仲裁,相关裁决做出后,其又以仲裁协议无效为由主张拒绝承认、认可或执行的,人民法院不予支持;另一方当事人在仲裁程序中未对仲裁协议效力提出异议,裁决作出后,又以有关争议不具有涉外因素为由主张仲裁协议无效,并以此主张拒绝承认、认可或执行的,人民法院不予支持。

上述两款规定构建起针对自贸区企业约定域外仲裁的法律框架,需要注意的是:

区分外商独资企业与外商投资企业:

"双方"均为自贸区内注册外商"独资"企业的,不管案件是否有涉外因素,均可以约定域外仲裁。

"一方或双方"为自贸区内注册外商"投资"企业的,如案件无涉外因素,当事人之间域外仲裁的约定不一定必然无效——法院虽然不会自行直接认定协议无效,但如果当事人在仲裁开庭首次开庭前向仲裁庭或法院提出针对仲裁协议有效性的异议,则仲裁庭/法院会按照普通规定对仲裁协议的有效性进行审查,如无涉外因素,则该仲裁协议会被认定为无效。

三、自贸区内有限开放临时仲裁

一直以来,中国法下不承认临时仲裁,而《意见》第9条的第3款有可能为就自贸区企业间的临时仲裁案件作出了规定。在自贸区有限地开放临时仲裁对自贸区企业来说是一个利好消息,企业可以根据自身情况将临时仲裁这种仲裁方式纳入考虑。

《意见》第9条第3款规定:"在自贸试验区内注册的企业相互之间约定在内地特定地点、按照特定仲裁规则、由特定人员对有关争议进行仲裁的,可以认定该仲裁协议有效。人民法院认为该仲裁协议无效的,应报请上一级法院进行审查。上级法院同意下级法院意见的,应将其审查意见层报最高人民法院,待最高人民法院答复后作出裁定。"

该款规定能被视为在自贸区企业间有限引入了临时仲裁制度,需注意:

  1. 双方都必须均为自贸区内注册的企业;
  2. 必须"三特定":内地仲裁地点、仲裁规则、仲裁员;这样才可能被认定为有效的临时仲裁协议,而不是一定有效,即法院仍有自由裁量权;
  3. 仲裁协议效力司法审查层报制度:下级人民法院认为仲裁协议无效的必须逐级上报,无效裁定只有待最高人民法院作出答复后才能作出。

并且,现有《意见》对于细节的规定仍旧存在一些模糊之处,《意见》本身也没有使用"临时仲裁"的字样,故对于该《意见》究竟是否是对临时仲裁的开放,仍待后续实施细则或者指导案例的公布。

四、涉自贸区企业起草仲裁条款的建议

约定域外仲裁:

如果双方均为自贸区内注册外商独资企业,不管案件是否有涉外因素,均可以约定域外仲裁。然而,值得注意的是,虽然"无涉外性"在此时不再成为认定仲裁协议无效的事由,但是仲裁协议仍可能因为其他事由被判定无效。比如,假若当事人约定仲裁条款适用中国法,则在中国法下,我国《仲裁法》第17条规定的仲裁协议的无效事由还包括:约定的仲裁事项超出法律规定的仲裁范围;无民事行为能力人或者限制民事行为能力人订立的仲裁协议;一方采取胁迫手段,迫使对方订立仲裁协议。

然而,如果一方或双方为自贸区内注册外商投资企业,除非交易具有明显的涉外因素,否则不建议约定域外仲裁条款。因为,较之外商"独资"企业间的约定,外商"投资"企业间的约定虽然不会被法院直接认定无效,但如果当事人在仲裁开庭前提出针对仲裁协议有效性的异议,则法院会按照普通规定对仲裁协议的有效性进行审查——如无涉外因素,则非常可能认定该仲裁协议无效。

因此,谨慎适用《意见》中的新规定仍显必要。

约定临时仲裁:

1、双方均须是自贸区内注册的企业,才可以考虑约定临时仲裁条款。

2、临时仲裁协议应满足"三个特定"因素标准,即临时仲裁协议需含有内地特定地点、特定仲裁规则、特定人员的约定内容。

这里的内地特定地点并未明确是仲裁地还是实际开庭地[4],因此建议对仲裁地及实际开庭地做相同约定——为同一个中国内地某城市;或者对仲裁地与实际开庭地分别做出明确约定。特定仲裁规则也未明确是双方事先约定规则即可,还是需要明确约定使用某正式机构或组织的既有仲裁规则;因此建议当事人约定适用某正式机构或组织的仲裁规则(注意排除适用国际商会国际仲裁院的仲裁规则(ICC Arbitration Rules)及一些类似的在规则中规定选择该机构仲裁规则就视为自动将争议提交给该仲裁机构的仲裁规则[5]),而不要自己商定规则。

此外,对仲裁人员进行约定时也宜直接明确约定仲裁员的人数和姓名。

目前来看,《意见》中对上述"三个特定"的规定都还较为模糊,在缺乏进一步官方说明前,建议当事人做狭义理解,分别作出明确、具体的约定。

"应当"认定该仲裁协议有效。法院在此保留了自由裁量权。因而,实践中仍旧存在一定风险。如果当事人所约定的仲裁规则并没有指向特定的仲裁机构,且任何一方当事人在仲裁首次开庭前对该仲裁协议提出异议,仍旧存在该仲裁条款被法院认定为无效的可能

故而,在后续实施细则或者指导案例公布前,对于是否使用该种仲裁条款还需谨慎,约定时也宜做狭义理解、明确约定,以此减少被法院认定为无效的可能性。

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